My News and Reviews
Since it is the end of one month and the beginning of another, the most recent manga giveaway has been posted. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, so there's still time to enter for a chance to win the first volume of Mayu Shinjo's Ai Ore!, Volume 1 as published by Viz Media. The most recent Library Love feature was also posted. Basically, it's a bunch of quick takes of manga that I borrowed from my library.
Also posted last week was my review of Elements of Manga Style by João Henrique Lopes, a Brazilian artist. Lopes was kind enough to send me a copy of the book for review. I found the subject matter to be fascinating and now want to read more about the theory and design of comics and manga.
Finally, there's one item of news that I want to mention: Hiroaki Samura's manga Blade of the Immortal is coming to an end. He's been working on the series for nineteen years. The English release of Blade of the Immortal (which I am slowly reviewing) is still several volumes behind the Japanese release, but the end is drawing near.
Barbara by Osamu Tezuka. Barbara is a very odd manga, but I'm not convinced that Tezuka was deliberately trying to be strange; I think it just happened to turn out that way. The manga focuses on Yosuke Mikura, a novelist, who happens across Barbara, a young woman and a drunk destined to become his muse. It is reveled early on that Mikura isn't a particularly reliable narrator, so there's always a question of how much of Barbara is the truth and how much of it is his delusions. For me, this was the most fascinating aspect of the manga. The final "twist" to the story was heavily foreshadowed and therefore wasn't at all surprising, but even though it was completely predictable I did like the ending.
Maka-Maka, Volumes 1-2 by Torajiro Kishi. I haven't read much explicit, adult-oriented yuri manga, but in my limited experience Maka-Maka is one of the best out there. It's also completely in color. Each chapter is only about eight pages long and centers around a moment in the lives of Jun and Nene. The two young women are best friends and in Maka-Maka are shown to be almost constantly in each others arms, teasing, fondling, and having sex with each other. Maka-Maka is very voyeuristic but not at all sleazy. It is abundantly clear that Jun and Nene enjoy being with each other. There's a lot of giggling involved and they are incredibly affectionate. Both Jun and Nene have boyfriends, but their relationship with each other is incredibly important.
Makeshift Miracle, Book 1: The Girl from Nowhere written by Jim Zub and illustrated by Shun Hong Chan. Makeshift Miracle originally started as a webcomic written and illustrated entirely by Zub. The present incarnation has been rewritten and Chan has been brought in to handle the art. So far, the most striking thing about Makeshift Miracle is its gorgeous artwork. The color work in particular is beautiful and dreamy. Plot-wise, not much has happened yet, the first book mostly serves to set the mood and scenario, but I find myself intrigued. I'm particularly curious about and amused by Esurio. Current plans are for the next volume to be released in 2013. I'll certainly be keeping my eye out for it.
Otomen, Volumes 6-10 by Aya Kanno. I am still really enjoying this series. Even though it has a serious and honest message, Otomen is frequently silly and even ridiculous. But that's what makes it such a delightfully fun series for me. That and Asuka is absolutely adorable when he blushes, which is often. The characters face trials and tribulations, but for the most part Otomen is a fluffy, feel-good manga. Granted, the characters aren't particularly complex or deep, but I do like them. Which is good, because more and more characters keep being introduced. Technically, Otomen is a romantic comedy so supposedly there's an overarching story dealing with the romance between Asuka and Ryo, but that particular plot point is going nowhere fast.
Rurouni Kenshin, Omnibus 4 (equivalent to Volumes 10-12) by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The long Kyoto arc continues! I find that I generally prefer the longer more involved stories in Rurouni Kenshin over the shorter ones. This particular arc has taken a few detours along the way, but I'm glad to see that the main cast has finally been reunited. As much as I like Kenshin as a character, I think the manga works best when his "family" is around him. I was pleased to see more of Kenshin's past and background revealed in this omnibus, specifically his younger years before he became the skilled swordsman that he now is. As part of this, the master swordsman he was raised by and studied under is also introduced, which was nice to see.
Slam Dunk, Episodes 1-23 directed by Nobutaka Nishizawa. I haven't read much of Takehiko Inoue's Slam Dunk manga yet, preferring his more serious works, but I was still excited to discover that the anime adaptation of the series was available in English. I'm not quite a quarter of the way through the anime and there's only been one real basketball game so far, which surprised me. I was particularly impressed that almost an entire episode was able to devote itself to a single minute of game time without losing my interest or feeling too drawn out. While the comedic elements are definitely still there, it seems like Slam Dunk is becoming more dramatic and serious as the series progresses. I'm looking forward to watching more.